IT’S a rare treat to listen to a concert from a seat on the Usher Hall stage itself, but for the venue’s Sound Check emerging artists series, the performers turn their backs on the usual audience places and play to an intimate group of listeners installed on the platform.
Arunda Wind Trio - Usher Hall, Edinburgh
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With the Arunda Wind Trio, it made for an enjoyably friendly, welcoming atmosphere – entirely in line with the inclusive ethos of Live Music Now, which organises the concerts. But the cavernous acoustic of the empty hall lowering behind the three players was hardly kind to their sound.
And sound was something of an issue throughout the trio’s brief morning recital. In the opening Mozart Divertimento, oboist Sarah Cruikshank was all but drowned out by the other players – a shame, as she showed a beautiful control of tone and phrasing in the graceful second movement, even if her playing still felt rather reticent.
The threesome were far more vivid in the bubbling Gallic insouciance of Ibert’s Cinq pièces, responding with touching affection to the composer’s soft, pastel harmonies. But George Auric’s Romance felt far more earthbound, and needed a more characterful projection to bring it truly to life. Clarinettist Jenny Stephenson came into her own in a witty rethinking of Rossini’s famous Largo al factotum, and the closing La petite pâtisserie by Jacques Leclair was suitably sweet and tasty. It was beautifully crafted, technically accomplished playing, but with more of a sense of verve and passion, it could have been something truly special.